Norte, the End of History. 2013. Philippines. Directed by Lav Diaz. With Sid Lucero, Angeli Bayani, Archie Alemania, Mailes Kanapi. In Filipino; English subtitles. 250 min.
Inspired by Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Norte is an equally epic and engrossing tale about the moral degradation of Fabian, a young, radical ideologue who proclaims, “If we really want to clean up society, the solution is simple: kill all the bad elements.” It is because of this conviction that a wealthy, heartless woman is murdered and an impoverished family is condemned to enormous suffering. Bearing a striking resemblance to the young Ferdinand Marcos, who put the Philippines under martial law for close to a decade, the character of Fabian also provides fresh insights into today’s political discourse. At 250 minutes, Norte is one of the shorter films by the reigning champion of slow cinema, Lav Diaz, but its vision is no less ambitious. At once a cautionary tale, an indictment of elites, and an expression of humanistic compassion, Norte is a masterpiece of cinema. Note: this film is screened without an intermission at the request of the filmmaker.